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Av8ferg

Hitachi 280ZX Distributors

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So, I thought I’d start a new thread about this topic since is only partially related to my rebuild. So I emailed Advanced Distributors about rebuilding one of my ZX distributors. Below is the guy’s response. I’d like you hear what you think about his comments.

 

 

“Hitachi distributors start at $200, and I can only rebuild them if it hasn't been through another rebuilder. Its common to see Cardone rebuilds from your local auto parts store that will never again work properly - permanently damaged in the cleaning process.

The last 9 of 10 280Z distributors here couldn't be rebuilt either because they were damaged by another rebuilder or used WAY beyond the point of needing a rebuild, or were damaged via salt water.

I'd be glad to give it a try if these circumstances don't apply? I race a Datsun at the Bonneville salt flats, so they have a special place in my heart.

Thanks,

Jeff”

 

 

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Ask him what, exactly, he does.  And if his price includes the ignition module.  I posted in your other thread, a Standard brand ignition module can cost $140.  You might be up to $340 by the time it's ready to use.

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Zed Head you type faster than Wanda Wiggins. LOL

 

I bought a ZX E12-80 distributor from amazon.com for $100.  I had to buy a cap and button.  It looked like a brand new one and has performed flawlessly since 2015.  I am very happy with it.  I remember reading a couple of years ago that someone bought one from amazon too and had problems with it.  Turned out to be the ignition module was bad.  If you have yours rebuilt you should make sure the rebuilder can get a new module.  I'm pretty sure they're NLA now so there's that to consider.

I put "1979 280ZX" in the search criteria and the body was stamped with the corresponding numbers for a '79 which is the best one according to the Excel spreadsheet Walter Moore made for the different distributors.

Distributor advance curves S30-S130.xls

 

Edited by siteunseen

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Okay, got all this. Can I used the ignition modules I have already...can they be tested?


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26 minutes ago, siteunseen said:

Zed Head you type faster than Wanda Wiggins. LOL

I had to Google Wanda Wiggins.  I was precoccupied in the 70s and missed those shows.

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16 minutes ago, Av8ferg said:

Okay, got all this. Can I used the ignition modules I have already...can they be tested?

They probably can be, but you won't know for sure until they've been sparking away on a hot engine.  They have a tendency to be heat-sensitive.

If you're basically starting from scratch and aren't tied to "original" there are quite a few other options for ignition modules.  If you use a remote module, the distributor just becomes a triggering device, that also controls timing advance.  If you think of it that way options like the 123 ignition system look good.  The main problem with the old Nissan distributors is that the breaker plate bearings dry up and destroy their bearing cage.  The parts are NLA and it doesn't seem like anyone makes them.  I think that Cardone just tests a bunch of old parts until they find some that work, then assemble the used parts and call it "rebuilt".

Has anyone closely examined the Cardone breaker plate to see if it's new parts?  Curious.

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The ZX dizzies have plastic plates which can break and lock up because they won’t properly rotate - ie. the vacuum advance plate . With my build I ran without a vacuum advance because of my cam and just eliminated the vacuum assembly - worked fine . I just ran a high initial advance and it worked out alright . I would see if you can buy one remanded if it’s cheap enough and take the risk vs paying 400$ to buy and rebuild it . The 123 ignition looks pretty good at this point . 

Id run what you got . Clean up the advance assembly and make sure the vacuum advance works 

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Madkaw, thanks for the tip. So, looking at old posts about distributors and seems like there are a host of issues especially on these aging components that can’t all be easily sourced. I’m in the mentality that reliability is a priority. I don’t want to be stuck in the side of the road or pulling what little hair I have left out trying to figure out why my engine runs like crap. There is value is paying once and crying once and just being done fighting and alway chasing gremlins. I’ve been reading after your post about these 123 Distributors. Sounds interesting. Question is how well does this work in a stock ECU? Is the juice worth the squeeze on these 123 distributors? Pay $550 for one or $350-400 to go back stock. Or just throw what I have in and “see what happens” I don’t want to end up on the side of the road driving to ZCOn in Nashville, 10 hrs away.
This happened when I rebuilt my 1966 VW engine. Went cheap on a few items and while driving from San Jose, Ca to Boston, I broke down three times. Generator fire in Bakersfield was the first failure. Granted it was 1998 and I was poor then so cheap was easy.


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I don’t know if I would characterize the dizzies as unreliable , but it is old stuff . I think if you had a spare module on hand and cleaned the dizzie up well you should be okay. The module failing is probably the only thing that will disable you - vs a sticky vacuum advance . In the end , even with rebuilding everything you can - it’s still (car)a mechanical item and there’s Murphy’s law - and it’s over 45 years old . 

Edited by madkaw
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So, I have an original 280zx dizzy with 12-80 matchbox that has been flawless in 10k miles of my ownership, I spent £180 on a reman one from RockAuto as mine had a slightly worn shaft - but it turned out to be just like my other one. So I bought the 123 ignition.

 

I’m mostly happy with 123 but as it’s been said above, mechanical items can fail be they new or not.

 

Here is my thread which I update with experiences as and when I come across stuff and I hope it’s a balanced and factual presentation of living with one on an L6.

 

https://zclub.net/community/index.php?threads/123-ignition-for-datsun-l6-on-my-l28.25467/

 

So far it’s been good since the initial issues with the cap and it’s worked well. It has some nice features. On balance it has grown on me. I find at the very top (5-7krpm) is where the biggest gains are over the 280zx item I replaced. Having the ability to customise the curve and switch between curves based on available fuel has been beneficial for my modified engine.

 

There is no such thing as a 100% reliable classic car (or even modern ones). For that reason my spare wheel well has things like spare cap/rotor, spare distributor, coil, fan belt, HT leads, plugs etc.

 

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So, I have an original 280zx dizzy with 12-80 matchbox that has been flawless in 10k miles of my ownership, I spent £180 on a reman one from RockAuto as mine had a slightly worn shaft - but it turned out to be just like my other one. So I bought the 123 ignition.

I’m mostly happy with 123 but as it’s been said above, mechanical items can fail be they new or not.

Here is my thread which I update with experiences as and when I come across stuff and I hope it’s a balanced and factual presentation of living with one on an L6.

https://zclub.net/community/index.php?threads/123-ignition-for-datsun-l6-on-my-l28.25467/

So far it’s been good since the initial issues with the cap and it’s worked well with some nice features. On balance it has grown on me. I find at the very top (5-7krpm) is where the biggest gains are over the 280zx item I replaced. It having the ability to customise the curve and switch between curves based on available fuel has been beneficial.

There is no such thing as a 100% reliable classic car (or even modern ones). For that reason my spare wheel well has things like spare distributor, fan belt, HT leads, plugs etc

AK260, that’s one impressive write up. So if your 280zx distributor was working flawlessly what did you order another one. Did the worm shaft cause problems?
It’s a lot of coin for that 123 distributor. Would you say it was worth the $$. I’m sure it’s more reliable.
I started tearing one of mine apart because it’s dirty and rusty inside. No sure how it’s gonna pan out. My first time doing this.
I get the reliability thing on old cars. The more complicated the mechanics the more can go wrong. Heck I was victim to your homelands diabolical creation the....flew the AV8B Harrier i (a mechanical and maintenance nightmare). Somehow I lived through it.
Old cars can be made reliable enough, and having working spares on hand in the trunk is smart. This is what I have 3 EFIs.


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There are more sophisticated options to control spark.  Lock out the advance mechanism of the distributor and it becomes essentially like a CAS on the damper pulley.  Similar to what you get with the 123 except you use your original distributor.

https://www.cbperformance.com/CB-s-Black-Box-Programmable-Timing-Control-Module-p/2013.htm

You could also go to a crank trigger and something like Megasquirt or Microsquirt.

If you want reliability and inexpensive ignition modules, convert any of your three distributors to use a GM HEI module.  About $25 each.  

 

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1 hour ago, Zed Head said:

There are more sophisticated options to control spark.  Lock out the advance mechanism of the distributor and it becomes essentially like a CAS on the damper pulley.  Similar to what you get with the 123 except you use your original distributor.

https://www.cbperformance.com/CB-s-Black-Box-Programmable-Timing-Control-Module-p/2013.htm

You could also go to a crank trigger and something like Megasquirt or Microsquirt.

If you want reliability and inexpensive ignition modules, convert any of your three distributors to use a GM HEI module.  About $25 each.  

 

He’s right - there’s alternatives . With the Megasquirt I would want to go all in and have it run everything though . HEI would be nifty . 

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Alll great great info guys just what needed. Thank you.
So I got one of mine apart and it’s not as complicated as I anticipated. I’m going to try and clean it all up, maybe get a new vac advance and see what happens. Also, I’m going to exchange the other one I got from the JR for another one they have sitting on a 79. Engine. They have a 30 day policy. The 79 will have a E12 80 module from what I have read. Both of mine here have the E12 92 and I’ve been reading that the side connector on that module will disrupt my timing by 8 deg if not connected. I think there is a work around on that but I haven’t gotten that far on my research. Does anyone know I need to look for when putting this back together. I read the the magnet can go bad. I didn’t know magnets went bad???


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You have seen the atlanticz write up haven't you? I'm sure you have but I can't remember reading that.

I've had two ZX dizzys with ball bearings stuck to the magnetic part. I would make sure those were in place and their plastic holder looked good. I have know idea how many there's supposed to be. For some reason I think I've read 8 in each half?

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On 2/29/2020 at 4:47 AM, Av8ferg said:

The 79 will have a E12 80 module from what I have read. Both of mine here have the E12 92 and I’ve been reading that the side connector on that module will disrupt my timing by 8 deg if not connected. I think there is a work around on that but I haven’t gotten that far on my research. 

The E12-92 will work exactly like the E12-80 if you only use the C & B connections. I've been running the E12-92 module for years this way.

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The E12-92 will work exactly like the E12-80 if you only use the C & B connections. I've been running the E12-92 module for years this way.

Can you clarify what you mean by the C & B connections?
446234df01499cf4108d0e529f1c3242.jpg


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Posted (edited)

In the picture you linked to the connections on the top of the matchbox are labeled C & B. The other 2 on the side are labeled I & W, leave those disconnected and the E12-92 will work just like the E12-80 which only has the C & B connections.

Edited by w3wilkes
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They advance the timing based on temperature, just like the 280Z distributors do, using the ignition module instead of the two pickup coils in the distributor.  It's shown on page EL-26 of the 1983 FSM.

I'd post a picture but there's something wrong with the forum.  Out of storage space, I believe.  "Image could not be saved.  Please contact us for assistance." "Upload failed". 

 @Mike

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